Monday, August 15, 2011

Going East: Liberty and Ellis

Ed and I hurried over to the ferry, traveled through security, and were soon with the hundreds of others who were also taking this first ferry over to the Statue of Liberty.

It was a short trip with great views, so we didn't mind just standing. 

After not too long, we could see Ellis Island, our second stop of the trip. It looks so fancy I thought it was the Governor's Island, until Ed corrected me.

And then, there was Lady Liberty. 

Ed had gone to the island before, but as a New York novice, it was obviously my first time, and I was very excited. Ed told me about how when his mom first came to America, she got the very traditional immigrant experience of being welcomed into the country with the view of this statue.

Now, we started getting closer and closer to the island. As this was happening, everyone was going over to the side of the boat closer to the statue and I noticed that the boat itself was acquiring a very severe tilt to one side. Despite the rational part of my mind knowing that this surely happens on every trip and is planned for by the ship designers, I couldn't help but feel concerned and futilely try to hang out on the opposite side of the boat, so that I could surely counteract the balance by myself.

Needless to say, I was very relieved when I could get off the boat and onto dry land. 

We hurried to get in the security line to enter into the monument. With maybe 30 people in front of us, and no one inside yet, we got to enjoy not battling real crowds, which was lovely. For some reason, while we waited, I still had the sensation that I was on the boat, and kept feeling like the ground was moving beneath my feet. Very, very strange. 

Once inside, the original torch was our first sight - apparently it used to be lit up with lights, but the effect was so unimpressive that they changed it to the gold gilded version you see today. 

The monument itself is a museum that takes you through the history and construction of the statue.

It also gives you an idea of its scale. 

In addition, there were many historical posters, newspapers, and other memorabilia. 

The museum talked a lot about how, while the statue was a present from France, the monument (the statue's base) was constructed by America. This meant that the country had to raise a lot of money for its construction, which apparently was not an easy task. 

After the museum portion, we were ready to go higher. 

We entered a stairwell that would take us to the top of the monument (the stone part of the statue) which would be as high as we would go. The stairs reminded us a bit of climbing the towers in San Gimignano, but these stairs felt safer. 

Once we reached the top, there were actually 4 viewing spots where you could look into the main part of the statue itself. 

After all this looking up, it was time to go outside and look down.  Seeing the height we had gained made us both relieved that we weren't going any higher. 

Especially when we looked up and saw how much further we would have had to go (going higher was a bit of a moot point because those tickets sell out far in advance and were didn't have our act together, but we were not at all disappointed). 

We could see the Verrezzano bridge, 

and the flagpole on Liberty island. 

From our vantage point, we had some great views of the city and it's surrounding boroughs. 

It was actually a bit colder than we were expecting, with some clouds hanging out overhead and a brisk wind, but it was beautiful. 

While we were looking down, we could see the next ferry heading over, equally full of tourists.

Funny story: while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge that morning, we saw a bride, groom and photographer crossing the other way. From the state of her dress, she had already been married (perhaps the day before), but were out taking some pictures. While we were at the statue, they showed up again! You can just barely make our her dress in this picture. 

The plaque on the monument.

Once we climbed down, we were treated with some more beautiful views. 

Ed was enamoured. 

Of course, we each needed the requisite picture with Lady Liberty,

and then we were off to our next "island adventure". We "quickly" changed into normal clothes (though this cost us catching the ferry we had planned to take), but this gave us a chance to buy a Christmas ornament (we always buy these as our souveniers on trips) and soon we were on our way. 

The scene that greeted us at Ellis island was luggage, to set the tone for the thousand and thousands of men, women, and children who traveled through this space on their way to hopefully become Americans.

This was the main hall where immigrants where brought.

I just loved the plethora of historical documents, recordings, pictures, records, artifacts, etc. that were throughout the museum. It is set up so that you travel through the building in the same way an immigrant would, through all these different rooms that served different purposes. 

Throughout the whole museum there were so many eyewitness accounts, which really made it more real. 

This is hundred year old graffiti from Ellis Island passerbyers.

I thought this was a really interesting representation of immigrant versus native born jobs.

There was a whole section full of left behind and forgotten artifacts on Ellis island that were found when people finally went back after the island had been out of use for a long time, on their way to restoring it to what it is today. 

On this ferry, we timed it perfectly, and so, with a few final pictures, it was time to say goodbye. 

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